How food affects our mental health

How food affects our mental health

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Younger people are affected differently by food than adults

The specialist magazine "Nutritional Neuroscience" recently published a study that reveals a connection between nutrition and mental health. According to the study, brain maturation does not finish until the age of 30. Therefore, emotional control, mindset, and resilience in a person may be different in adolescence than in adulthood or older. The study examined the difference in nutritional influences on mental health among groups whose brains are fully mature and those who are still developing.

The aim of the study was to compare the food intake and nutritional practices of young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 with those of adults over the age of 30 and to examine them in terms of psychological stress. Furthermore, the study should assess whether psychological well-being influences healthy eating and exercise. The data for the study was collected in an anonymous internet-based survey that was sent to various professional and social group networks via social media platforms. The data was used to determine a relationship between nutritional variables, physical activity and psychological stress in the respective target group.

Study results

The psychological mood of the group of young adults (18 to 29 years) seems to be influenced more by food, which increases the availability and concentration of serotonin and dopamine, as is the case, for example, with meat consumption. According to the study, the psychological mood of adults tends to depend on the availability of antioxidants, which can be increased, for example, by eating fruit. The abstinence from certain foods, such as coffee and a lack of breakfast, also had a greater impact on the psychological mood in this target group. The study concludes that the extent of brain maturation and age-related changes in morphology and brain functions require dietary adjustments to improve mental well-being.

More exercise and meat under the age of 30

"One of the key findings of this study is that diet and nutritional practices differentially affect the mental health of young adults versus mature adults," said Lina Begdache of Binghamton University in New York. Another remarkable result is that the mood in young adults is sensitive to the buildup of brain chemicals. “Regular consumption of meat leads to the build-up of the two brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine, which are known to promote mood. Regular training leads to the development of this and other neurotransmitters. In other words, young adults who ate meat less than three times a week and exercised less than three times a week showed significant psychological stress, ”said Begdache.

Over 30 years of age more fruit and less carbohydrates and coffee

"Conversely, the mood of adults over 30 years of age appears to be more sensitive to regular consumption of antioxidant sources and abstinence from food that improperly activates the innate fight or flight response, commonly known as the stress response," added Begdache. With increasing age, the formation of free radicals (oxidants) increases, so that the need for antioxidants increases. Free radicals cause disorders in the brain, which increases the risk of mental disorders. “Our ability to regulate stress is also decreasing. So when we consume food that activates the stress response, such as coffee and too many carbohydrates, we tend to experience psychological stress, ”reports Begache. (fp)

Author and source information

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